No date set on Howard's return to Lakers lineup

The SportsXchange

Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard, who has been practicing, said he might not appear in a preseason game as he recovers from offseason back surgery.

Howard told reporters last week that would "hopefully" play at least some during the preseason, but backed off that Sunday as he watched his Lakers fall to the Golden State Warriors 110-83 Sunday in the preseason opener.

"I'm on track (to return), but my goal wasn't to play (in) a preseason game," Howard told ESPN Los Angeles. "My goal is to win a championship. That's what we're shooting for."

Lakers coach Mike Brown said he has not talked with Howard about playing any specific preseason games. The Lakers have seven preseason games left, with the next one on Wednesday against the Portland Trail Blazers in Ontario, Calif.

Brown said it is up to the training staff and doctors to determine when Howard is ready.

"He couldn't play here today and so whenever they tell me he can play, he'll play," Brown said.

Howard said he needs to further strengthen his entire body before he will be ready to play.

"I'm a hard worker," he said. "My back just has to get stronger and I have to get everything that surrounds it stronger too so I can play at a high level. That's my goal. That's my focus. Like I said, I want to give these guys everything and give the game of basketball everything because at the end of the year I want to hold up the trophy, so I want to make sure I'm 100 percent."
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